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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NEC expansion plans

Ron Ratner of the NEC told me yesterday that NJIT in Newark and Bryant College, a Division II school in Smithfield, R.I., have applied for membership to the NEC and that league presidents ""could vote'' on the matter at an Oct. 17 meeting.

NJIT's major sports include men's and women's basketball and soccer, as well as baseballl, while Bryant also has football and has been a Division II power in men's lacrosse which the NEC would then sponsor.

Ratner said NJIT is already Division I in soccer.

Below is in today's Providence Journal...

Journal Sports Writer

SMITHFIELD — Bryant University has beaten the clock in one hurdle to elevate its athletics department to Division I. A final answer could come down as soon as next month.

Last month, the NCAA moved to stem the number of schools hoping to make the jump to Division I. Its board of directors enacted a four-year moratorium on schools applying to move up. The moratorium, which is effective immediately and runs until August of 2011, does not affect 20 institutions that already had begun the process of reclassifying. Bryant filed its notice with the NCAA last spring, and therefore is exempt from the moratorium.

“It caught us by surprise, to be honest,” Bryant athletic director Bill Smith said of the moratorium. “We knew the NCAA was evaluating its transition plan, so to get in before the door slammed shut is a relief.”

Bryant is now in an “exploratory period,” where it is evaluating whether its successful program in the Northeast-10 Conference is ready to make the move up to Division I. Bryant officials have until June to find potential conferences that would be a good fit, and also to decide whether to apply for admission. If Bryant does move forward, it will file another application with the NCAA and begin a four-year process during which it will upgrade its schedules with Division I opponents.

If Bryant reapplies, then next fall its athletic teams would be ineligible for Northeast-10 and Division II championships, as well as any Division I championships. Bryant teams would become championship eligible in Division I starting in the fall of 2012.

The biggest hurdle to Bryant’s potential move is finding a spot in a conference. Smith says proceeding as an independent school is not an option, so landing a spot in an Eastern-based league is the top priority. Bryant wouldn’t be a candidate for conferences like the Atlantic 10 or Big East, but it is exploring other leagues, especially the Northeast Conference, according to sources. The school would love to be considered for the Patriot League and perhaps the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), but those talks haven’t gone very far.

“We’ve had discussions with three commissioners,” said Smith, who declined to discuss which leagues Bryant has expressed interest in. “The conference is the biggest thing. We want to be competitive in whatever conference we’re accepted into. If we’re not able to find a home in Division I, we’d rethink our strategy.”

Bryant has had extensive discussions with the Northeast Conference, which now includes 11 members: Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (N.Y.), St. Francis (Pa.) and Wagner. Six of those schools, not including football-only member Albany, play football. A team of NEC officials visited Bryant last month. Expanding the NEC will be the major topic of discussion at a meeting of the conference’s presidents next month.

“Bryant is one of the schools our membership committee has explored,” said Ron Ratner, the NEC’s associate commissioner. “They’re a good fit because they have football, and they’d give us enough schools to form a men’s lacrosse program. It also has a beautiful campus and is a strong academic institution.”

The NEC also is considering adding the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Asked if the NEC’s presidents could vote to add either school next month, Ratner said, “You never know. There may be (a vote). Both schools would like an answer sooner than later.”

There's more to this story on the PJ web site...


Blogger Tony Graham said...

I am copying this comment from anon onto this thread...

Anonymous said...
NJIT and Bryant have applied to the NEC.

Does the 11-team conference need 2 more members? The football conference is back to 8 teams in 2008 with Duquesne, do we need 9?

QU has already stated it wants to "upgrade" its conference and CCSU doesn't fit, as the only public school - are they leaving?

Any chance Monmouth could join the MAAC now that they have a new hoops facility in the pipeline?

12:13 PM, September 25, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

Minimum for NCAA championship eligibility is six schools in a conference...

This would give NEC nine in football and 13 in hoops..

The thinking I believe is..never hurts to have enough members..teams do bolt..

There is some thought Albany may leave if the America East ever sponsors football...As you say, Q Pac is apparentlly oogling some conferences....

My guess is - if NEC takes one of the two it'll be Bryant - because of football and men's lax. But it wouldn't be a bad thing to have another "metro" school in the NEC either (NJIT.)

Am unaware - myself - about any CCSU rumblings - Blue Devil, you out there???

Monmouth to the MAAC? Well, not for football!

I think MU has to first get the MAAC up and running and then return to prominance in the NEC in men's hoops for any of that to happen..just my opinion.

Sometimes it's better to be a big fish in small pond.

12:24 PM, September 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back when I looking at colleges, Bryant was one of the ones that I looked at. Academically, they are very strong in the sciences and business, and Bryant is actually considered a sister school to Calzonetti's alma mater, Bentley College. In the end, I decided to stay in the Philly area, but I would definitely like to see Bryant join the NEC. If for nothing else, it'll give me an excuse to visit relatives in RI while going to the MU game up there

12:54 PM, September 25, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

My personal opinion is..I hope you like your relatives because you'll be visiting...

4:17 PM, September 25, 2007  
Anonymous FL MU/C ALUM said...

Glad to read that the NEC is considering adding Bryant and NJIT.
With the addition of Duquesne and now Bryant would only benefit the overall football program.
Also adding men's lax into the NEC program would be another bonus, now MU needs a team.
As for adding Bryant and NJIT in basketball, maybe MU could add some more schools in the win column.

5:56 PM, September 25, 2007  
Anonymous bluedevil said...

Seems CCSU is staying in the NEC and I don't think QU is going anytwhere either.

If approved, would Bryant begin play in 2008-09? Is the NEC willing to leave NJIT on the outside looking in?

Honestly, what is the NEC membership thinking? This is not a charity for D-I start-ups.

I think this will hurt the NEC for a while. Look how long it took QU and SHU to build a decent program. This will ensure the NEC champ PIG or #16 seed status for years to come!

6:17 PM, September 25, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

Blue Devil...You make some interesting points..but I think in the case of Bryant, the NEC which is very into football now, is looking to add another gridiron program in the event of defections...

10:27 PM, September 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duquesne is not in the NEC for basketball right?

11:14 PM, September 25, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

Re: Duquesne. Correct - football only..Has been the class of the MAAC in football...

11:40 PM, September 25, 2007  
Anonymous bluedevil said...

Come on what football defections? Albany isn't going anytwhere now that the NEC will have the football AQ. I do admit CCSU is the most likely school to be plucked by America East, but they'd would still need a football home in the NEC.

I'm not trying to put down either school, but what do they OFFER the current NEC members other than warm bodies (with a bad RPI)?

If the NEC is only adding Bryant/NJIT to guard against defections, that must mean someone is on the way out. In that case, my guess would be CCSU or QU.

Lastly, if Bryant is practically a done deal, what are the odds on NJIT?

11:44 PM, September 25, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

I'm not sure one or both is a done just speculating that - in my opinion - NEC would take Bryant over NJIT if it came down to one and not the other..

I think NEC would also like to add another school in New England..the Providence market may not be Boston but it's an upgrade from....oh...New Britain? Fairfield? Hamden?

As for hoops..assuming Bryant and NJIT - and we're only assuming - would not be strong, that doesn't mean a CCSU, MU, etc. would be deprived of a 13-14 NCAA men's hoop seed on its own merit ... always..appreciate your input...

12:51 AM, September 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The inclusion of any new school(s) into a conference is not solely decided on one specific sport/aspect (Ivy excluded). While men's basketball still ultimately gets the most mainstream publicity for the conference and football is always getting more each year, there are 19 other programs sponsored by the NEC that needs their attention. It also appears that they are positioning themselves for yet another sport in men's lacrosse. While NJIT and Bryant could be bottom feeders for the first few years in some sports, they may very well dominate some others.

In regards to Blue Devil's comment on the RPI and tourney seeding, winning against a bad team in conference will not significantly affect your RPI and the selection committee's decision on seeding. In order to ensure yourself a higher seed than a 16/play-in is to get quality wins out-of-conference and do very well in-conference, minimizing (if not eliminating) bas losses.

9:21 AM, September 26, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

My thoughts again - bottom line is - adding one or both schools is a good move.

For me - NJIT is a relatively short drive..hey, we've gotta take into account the important stuff!

10:16 AM, September 26, 2007  
Anonymous bluedevil said...

Thanks for the chance to post, you do a good job covering the NEC. Anyway, here's my final thoughts on the topic:

Anons points are well taken, but we all know MBB is highest profile sport and arguably, the most important. IMO this signifigantly weakens the hoops reputation (as if it can get any lower). I agreee non-conference wins are most important to RPI, but a weak conference scheudule will hurt come selction sunday, period.

Football is very important, and I like tho addition of Duquesne, but I don't see the NEED or BENEFIT of adding Bryant. Great job by NEC brass in working to secure the AQ, without the need to expand. Tis does sound is if we expect some teams to leave in the future.

I think expanding the footprint in New England is a positive. A RI school is one advantage on this expansion. NJIT does not provide that benefit.

Lastly, if Bryant does allow the NEC to sponosr MLax, then I agree this is a good move. But I have serious reservations about QU. They have swiched MLax conferences multiple times and blunty don't seem eager to associate with the rest of the NEC. Are they willing to play NEC MLax?

We read that garbage that came out of Hamden regarding Coach Moore and the A-10. QU does not like being in the NEC and they have been very public about it. Has anyone noticed there is no NEC logo on the court of their new hoops arena?

So I suggest we get QU to go on record and show a real commitment to the NEC and this propsed MLax sponsorship before a vote is taken. This fan, doesn't trust QU at all.

11:32 AM, September 26, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

It does sound or appear - that Q Pac is eager to leave - if afforded the opportunity.....

Quick story - I recently spoke with a DI men's hoops coach who was on a recruiting mission where he met Q Pac coach Jim Moore. Moore, who of course has been at U Conn, was less than thrilled at the ability of some of the players he was watching - certainly compared to those he had been recruiting at U Conn.

The coach allegedly told Moore - "Get used to it. These are the guys you'll be recruiting in the NEC.''

1:29 PM, September 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the person dreaming about Monmouth adding men's lacrosse... Not going to happen... They would then have to add at least one women's sports, probably two because of the number of players on a men's lacrosse team, in order to comply with Title IX... Monmouth is already tight with the purse strings, don't see them opening them up to add three more sports.

BTW... Even though these two schools are better than the St. Vincent College that President Gaffney voted to add in a couple years ago, the NEC really doesn't need two more schools... It is already spectacularly mediocre with the ones they have now.

Hook 'em Hawks.

5:12 PM, September 26, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

Those St. Vincent Bearcats brought back football this year having not fielded a varsity team since 1962...why I actually looked this up I have no idea...

5:36 PM, September 26, 2007  
Anonymous gym rat said...

Monmouth should stay put or make a major move to the A-10.Football is the way to a better ranked conference NOT Mens Basketball.MU Football program is building the future for the move upwards! With the MAC under way now the move upwards could happen over the next 3-5 years. It takes Big Money and time to rebuild programs to compete at the higher level. Men's Soccer has done it with outstanding coaching and recruiting with less money then our flag ship programs,it can be done,Monmouth is in the best position in the NEC to make a major move with all its programs.The million dollar question is does the President and the Board want to compete at the A-10 level or stay in the NEC.Tony why not ask the question when you have a chance. Lets get a big win this weekend,it will light up the blog....

8:50 PM, September 26, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

Anon said: Monmouth should stay put or make a major move to the A-10.Football is the way to a better ranked conference NOT Mens Basketball.

Me: There is no A-10 in football, it is now the CAA: Delaware, Towson, etc.

Anon said: MU Football program is building the future for the move upwards! With the MAC under way now the move upwards could happen over the next 3-5 years. It takes Big Money and time to rebuild programs to compete at the higher level. Men's Soccer has done it with outstanding coaching and recruiting with less money then our flag ship programs,it can be done,Monmouth is in the best position in the NEC to make a major move with all its programs.

Me: My opinion is..within a few years the NEC will opt to go with around the 60 scholarships currently allowed (63) at the FCS that point why switch conferences??

Anon said: Question is does the President and the Board want to compete at the A-10 level or stay in the NEC.Tony why not ask the question when you have a chance.

Me: Ok..I will in the near future. I don't know if A-10 is realistic for MU in men's hoops...even with the new arena..again..first of all..MU needs to return to the top rungs of the NEC before seeking a higher grade conference..though I would think a winning program and a new arena would make it attractive...

Anon said : Let's get a big win this weekend,it will light up the blog....

Me: I guess it would. If MU can make it interesting, it would be a significant accomplishment...

12:31 AM, September 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, why don't you give credit to the men's soccer program ,when it's results are better then Mens Basketball and Football ?????

9:13 PM, September 27, 2007  

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